‘Paralysis of action will be fatal’ – Pres Ali on ‘Vision 25 by 2025’ agenda

– calls on agricultural experts in Region to formulate implementable actions

President Dr Irfaan Ali has urged the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) not to lose sight of its Vision 25 by 2025 goals amid the successful progress made, and all actions should be geared towards gains for the Region.
The Head of State delivered the keynote address at the launch of Caribbean Week of Agriculture on Friday.
Dubbing Vision 25 by 2025 as a ‘tipping point’ for the Caribbean, the President underscored, “Failure must not be contemplated. We must persevere. Paralysis of action will be fatal. There is much more work to be done.”
As the lead for agriculture in Caricom, the Guyanese Head of State added, “I urge all key decision makers in the public and private sectors within the region attending CWA 2023 to use this forum as an opportunity to forge the vision of transforming the agri-food system.”
Vision 25 by 2025, which was conceptualised by President Ali for a 25 per cent reduction in the Region’s food import bill by the year 2025. Owing to the Region’s dependency on imported foods, it faces hardships when disruptions occur. And in light of this, the intention was to formulate a sense of food stability and security.
During his speech, Ali called on agricultural experts to formulate implementable actions such as resilient food production systems, trade solutions, online platforms, financial flows, transportation solutions, youth and women involvement, product development, and innovative funding.
“Members states have not only committed to a targeted percentage allocation of public spending on food and in the agriculture sector but also committed to production targets for identified priority commodities. Recognizing the key role of the private sector, the Ministerial Task Force has partnered with CARICOM private sector organisations to identify commodities for concentrated regional policy support,” Ali added.
Priority commodities for the region are poultry, corn, meat, soya beans, rice, niche vegetables and coconut products among others.
As of 2022, the region achieved 57 percent of the production target towards reducing the food import bill by 2025. Over the next two years, the Guyanese Leader asserted that more than 1.4 metric tonnes of commodities must be produced to achieve this target.
“We have the political will and more importantly, we have the capacity within CARICOM to achieve this and produce quality food for our people.”
The region has seen successes with this agenda, with US$100 million in support coming from the United States Government.
A spice development programme has been launched in Jamaica; a national shade house project and cattle farm in Trinidad and Tobago; increased agricultural production in St Lucia and Dominica; a new tissue lab and phytosanitary legislation adoption in Barbados; 75,000 hectares of land for large-scale agricultural projects in Suriname.
Guyana is the lead in agriculture and food security in the CARICOM bloc. This is reflected in its transformative projects in priority commodities such as corn and soya beans – becoming one of the largest agricultural investments in the region by 2026 with US$40 million invested.
Wheat production trials have commenced, along with the resuscitation of the cocoa and coffee industries. Guyana is also making strides in brackish water shrimp, black belly sheep rearing, new rice varieties, new broiler facility to hatch eggs, among other successes.
At the 32nd Inter-Sessional Conference of the Caricom Heads of Government, a special ministerial task force was established and tasked with guiding the transformation of the regional agri-food system towards full commercialisation. A prime focus was to address the rising food import bill and to stimulate investment in agriculture and food production.
By the 33rd Inter-Sessional Conference, President Ali had presented a detailed plan for commercialising the agri-food sector while reducing the food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025. Emphasis was placed on countries and their respective target areas. The Heads of State had also agreed on an agriculture forum and expo, cementing a platform for investment in the regional agriculture sector. (Rupa Seenarine)